Work and travel

Part of my job involves going to conferences, often to present on the research I’m working on, and to connect with other folks doing related work. A few months ago I received an email from a ccolleague I’d met at least 4 years ago, asking if I’d be interested in presenting on my work at a local(ish) economics conference. After checking with my bosses and getting the go ahead, I ran it past Leah, then my mom, because in the past I’ve taken Darwin along with me, and my mother has spent the day with her while I work. It worked out that my mother got back from a trip at midnight the night before we would have to leave (at 7 am), but she was game, so I said yes.

Wednesday morning dawned early. Dramatic? 5am. I could have slept until 6, but the chronic anxiety of a researcher on soft money had me going with the sunrise. It took nearly 45 minutes to get Darwin into (dirty) clothes (I pulled from the hamper because she had to have a tank and ‘no mama, not that one!’). We were on the road by 8, thankfully with plenty of time to get there before my presentation. We had a near miss of motion sickness driving through a windy pass, but Darwin was a champ. We got there in record time with only one pee stop. (It’s been a week without an accident, I’m calling us trained now…)

While I was at my conference, which went amazingly well and involved visiting with colleagues and beer, my mom and Darwin got to go play at the high desert museum, fix a flat tire, and see a fish hatchery. I can’t really say which of us had more fun.

My mom is one of those people that Darwin doesn’t fight with over every little thing, mostly, I suspect, because she always has her grandma’s full attention, they go at a nice pace for a two year old and a seventy year old, and my mother has a dozen Pete the Cat books on her Nook (which Darwin calls her “Nookie”). 

The story was more difficult when we were all together. Darwin whined and clung and refused to cooperate when I was present. This isn’t anything new. I given her choices about getting dressed or eating or which shoes to wear, and she responds with a sulky face and a loud “NOTHING.” Sometimes after running to a corner and peering at me from over her shoulder with an epic pout. 

In spite of all the toddler independence, we had a very nice whirlwind trip. I’m so grateful that my mother likes my kid, that she’s flexible enough to be able to join us on these trips, and that Darwin adores her as well. 

Now I just have to figure out how to solve complex policy questions about wildfire risk and landscape management and prove myself to be indispensable so that we can continue to have opportunities to do this into the future. 

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